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There is a very nasty bug in the 2.6.27 kernel that can brick a machine that has Intel e1000 NIC hardware. It was hard to find a concise description of the bug, but here is a link to the some of the discussion, and here is a link to the "final" explanation and resolution.
DO NOT attempt a bare-metal install of any distribution using this kernel or run a live CD with this kernel.
On this machine I didn't do any. This T400 is a Vista Business 64 only configuration with Linux, Solaris, and WinXX virtual machines running in (free) VMWare Player. Virtual machines were copied from my other machines or built with (free) VMX Builder + the appropriate install media.
I tried a random selection of Linux live CDs: Knoppix, Ubuntu, and Fedora, with mixed results. They mostly seemed to fall over if switchable graphics was enabled. Things went better if either Intel integrated or ATI discrete was set as the only graphics option in BIOS - but the different distros didn't agree on which one they preferred.
These were very quick and dirtry trials, mostly to see if any would boot to a desktop at all.
Ubuntu 7.10 32 bit
This only got tested with switchable graphics enabled. I tried every boot option I could find, but never ended up with a usable desktop. All roads ended with a scrambled or black screen. The system was alive - but no X windows.
I need to retest with a later Ubuntu or with switchable graphics disabled in BIOS.
Fedora Core 7 32 bit
Total mess like Ubuntu. Tested only with switchable graphics enabled.
Fedora Core 8 32 bit
In either discrete or integrated graphics mode, booting produced a message like this 10 times:
Buffer I/O error on device sr0, logical block 178467
But then went on to fail or succeed depending on the graphics device.
With Intel integrated graphics enabled it alternated between a reasonable splash screen with spinner and a garbled mess. In the end, no joy.
With ATI discrete graphics it actually came up to a 1152x864 desktop with no other resolution options, but the wired NIC was non-functional. Didn't even try wifi.
Fedora Core 10 32 bit
Nice! This one required Intel integrated graphics. It came all the way up to a login screen, then a desktop in the LCDs native 1440x900 resolution and played a little sound. Wired NIC worked. Wifi found my access point automatically, and connected when I selected it.
Knoppix 5.1.1 (CD)
Comes up to a 1024x768 desktop. No network.
EEK! On reboot to Vista, the service partition boots instead! Something stepped on BIOS somehow. Since I had run severl live CDs in a row, I can't be sure which one tweaked things. Another reboot to Windows worked OK.
Knoppix 5.3.1 (DVD)
WIth ATI discrete graphics selected, the boot screen comes up but then reboots. Not nice.
With Intel integrated graphics selected, it boots to a 1024x768 desktop, but no NIC.
EEK! Again. Set BIOS back to switchable graphics and rebooted. Up came the service partition and said that Windows wouldn't boot! It asked me if I wanted to roll back to an earlier configuration and I said NO. It went ahead and ran a series of hardware tests without asking permission. All tested OK, and another reboot brought Vista back.
I still don't know what ws going on. I can only guess that a live CD stepped on BIOS, or some persistent memory area that caused the machine to think the previous boot had failed. These things map too much vital crap into memory space.
Knoppix 6.0.1 (CD)
With switchable graphics enabled it boots to a nice 1440x900 desktop. Wifi doesn't work - or at least I couldn't figure out how to get it working - but wired network does work.
It doesn't look like battery run time will be very good, but at least it boots in my default (switchable graphics) configuration.
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